Ever heard a record that made you want to get down like this little kid? The first record I ever bought on vinyl was Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I was 10, it was 1994 and the record was still bumping on the radio fifteen years after its original release. New, old, fresh, or dusty, the music got to me, put me in a mood I was unable to describe at the time. My mother had never seen me so intoxicatingly excited about anything before; she didn’t really know how to react. She worked hard with a no nonsense policy always enforced around the house. She gave me the money I asked for to get the record just to get me out of the house. “Now go on outside and play and stop pestering me,” she barked after slapping the dough in the palm of my hand. Out I went. After buying the record and enough candy to last me ‘till the end of time, I raced my bike across town – a very small town -- as fast as I could to my grandparents’ house, where I retreated to the basement for some serious privacy. My grandfather, who used to own a record store, had a lonely turntable set up at the end of the long, terribly lit basement for special occasions just like this. I got my boogie on for a couple hours, doped up on food coloring and high-fructose corn syrup, poor lighting and all.
It wasn’t long before music got to me the same way the youngest member of the Jackson 5 did. In 1995, just one year after my first magical music moment, I discovered Prince. My cousin let me borrow 1999 on cassette with the promise I return it promptly. 9 months and 101 excuses later, she was forced to steal it back from me. Prince was my forbidden fruit. Never listened to him out loud, always played him in my Walkman for fear my mother would forbid me from listening to it. I’ll admit, the vulgarity and promiscuity that Prince exudes is a bit much for any 11-year-old, but like Michael Jackson, all I ever wanted to do was dance. I had to listen to music that made me want to move, shimmy and shake ‘till the exhaustion kicked in and forced me to call it quits. Lyrics be damned-- I didn’t understand what the heck they were talking about anyway, it was gibberish to me. It was about the beat, the rhythm, and the evoked emotion.
So, what do MJ and the artist currently known as Prince have in common besides pure genius and impeccable taste? Director/choreographer to the stars Fatima Robinson has graced some of their videos with her cutting-edge dance moves. Her “big break” came back in 1992 when John Singleton, director of Poetic Justice featuring Janet Jackson, asked her to choreograph the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time.” She was a street dancer hired without technical or formal training. Flash forward a decade and some change later and Fatima finds herself in an episode of Making the Video for Prince’s “Black Sweat” from his album 3121. They played nice and made friends, good friends, according to Ms. Robinson, who was quoted in Papermag claiming if she really wanted to boogie, "I just go over to Prince's house for a jam session, and I'll dance in my own world. Get my groove off!" Word.
Prince and MJ are just the tip of the iceberg-- she’s busted a move for more artists than you could ever imagine. According to Serena Altschul of MTV, “You can turn to MTV at any time of the day and catch a glimpse of Robinson's resume. She started saturating the video market in the early 1990s,” and
hasn’t stopped since, adding artists Like Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Madonna, Dr. Dre, and Santana to her long list of clients. Robinson has also since gone on to choreograph big productions like Save The Last Dance, Ali featuring Will Smith and Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. What makes Fatima so different from other choreographers is her relentless determination to impose her innovative will, rhythm and authentic style on the most popular dance moves of our time. She catapulted into the entertainment world beyond MTV after winning her second award for Best Choreography in a music video for her work on “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” by Busta Rhymes. Demand for Fatima abundantly increased back in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since.
Ms. Robinson has won enough awards since the start of her career to fill a small room in her house and has made enough friends along her journey to fill an arena and have a private dance party of her own. She recently launched her site Whatdoyoudance.com, a social network dedicated to dance, lifestyle, fashion, art, events, and forward thinking from a dancer's perspective, of course. Puma, the shoe and apparel company, along side Love-Made, has decided to celebrate Robinson and her long list of accomplishments by making her the first host of their Monthly Music Showcase Series. Next Tuesday, Fatima, along with a circle of her closest dancer friends, singer friends, and friends of friends, will dance and toast the night away. For one hour out of the night I, DJ Smiles Davis, will have the pleasure of spinning some freshest tunes for guests and party go-ers. Alongside me will be Prince’s very own DJ, the beautiful and talented Rashida, plus DJ Wendy City and Posso The DJ. If you'd like to attend and get your boogie on please feel free to view the flyer and RSVP here. This is a private event and there will be no entry unless you've put your name on the list. Hope to see ya'll there! ‘Till next time…chew the corners off.